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Shearing is over for the season, and we currently have some 3,700 sheep on the farm, including this year's 500+ lambs and our coloured flock (which numbers 81 mixed-breed sheep in total).
The coloured ewes produced some early-born offspring by our black ram Jackson (named after the hurdler, for his long legs and leaping ability) - hard to believe they are still less than a year old when you see them.
MAIL ORDER NEWS
We've been busy developing the mail order business, and now have a limited supply of top from our coloured fleeces for sale - please check out the updated Top page for details. There's a delicious dark chocolate shade blended from our darkest fleeces; I named this Peatbog because it reminds me of wet peat. There's also a grey with soft brown undertones, blended from the grey and part-coloured fleeces; this I named Stone Run after the Falklands' unique 'rivers' of stone.
Our old-fashioned type yarns have been selling steadily (see Yarns page) and we are planning on getting more spun from this year's fleeces - also more white top and more coloured top later on to try and keep up with demand.
DYEING & SPINNING
I've been busy dyeing and spinning yarns for Falkland Folk Hats - it seems that these items are really popular with tourists off the cruise ships that visit Stanley, and many a night has seen me still up at midnight treadling away... I have developed a different way of producing multicoloured yarns (see updated Island Dreams Yarn page), using our own white top, colouring it - mostly before spinning - in the dedicated dyeroom that Clive fitted out for me. I'm also starting to dye some of our Aran yarns for the hats, as it is hard to keep up with the enthusiastic group of 'Mad Hatters' in town. I am delighted to have a new spinning wheel to add to my stable - this is a Majacraft Suzie Pro, a great little workhorse.
A P-P-P-PICNIC WITH THE P-P-P-PENGUINS
A highlight of our festive season was our Christmas Day outing to visit the Gentoo penguins on our north coastline. Last year's tiny rookery has shifted base slightly, and has developed into a healthy double unit numbering some 87 nests and roughly 160 chicks. On the way there we stopped to watch a pair of redbacked buzzards (hawks) circling protectively, near what was obviously their nesting site.
When we reached the penguins we sat for ages just enjoying watching their everyday comings and goings. There was a perpetual Changing of the Guard ceremony going on, as one parent returned to feed its chick - or more often chicks, since it was a good 'lambing' - while the other sighed with relief and trundled down to the coast to take a turn at fishing. It has to be said that some chicks were just never satisfied...
A few had yet to hatch, while those already safely arrived varied from tiny newborn to quite large chicks, the latter with insatiable appetites. Other younger, footloose, feckless and unattached penguins wandered around - probably last year's chicks - and occasionally sauntered practically right up to us to inspect the large, strange visitors. (This being a remote site they are untroubled by humans for virtually the whole of the year.) All looked very healthy, with feet that positively glowed...
One penguin appeared to be totally obsessed with impressing his mate, who sat guarding an empty nest. He kept bringing her large clumps or 'branches' of diddledee - the heathery low growing shrub which covers most of our farm.
He would brandish the offering, and she would ignore him...
He would tuck it carefully into the nest wall and plod back to find a bigger, better piece...
She would stare pointedly in the opposite direction pretending she couldn't see what he was doing - and no doubt thinking:
"Huh! They're all the same, these chaps. Think they can impress a girl with a bunch of twigs, then skive off to the ocean for the day leaving her stuck in the home..."
By the time we left the site - reluctantly - the hard-to-win-over female had the highest walled nest in the rookery but was still ignoring her other half. And her partner was beginning to look a little despondent, not to say tired...
We are so fortunate to live in one of the few remaining unspoilt areas of the world, and be able to witness these heartwarming sights.
Thanks for visiting us. If you are a newcomer do check out earlier What's New pages, to catch up on such things as the all-too-brief visit of Elvis the penguin, among other events down here on the farm. And do sub to our email newsletter if you wish to be advised of updates to the site.